Friday, November 27, 2009

Day Before Surgery--Meeting Dr. Ha

Day Before Surgery pt 1

On the day before surgery, that Tuesday, I got to meet the doctor who was going to perform Ash’s surgery. His name was Dr. Ha.

What can I say about him? First of all, he is incredible and I am thankful that the Lord brought him to us.

Dr. Ha is a young man…maybe my age (no snickers from the peanut gallery! Hee hee). He is pleasantly intense, quick, sharp, bright. But the oddest thing about him is that he talks just like me. I never realized or thought of how I communicate until I heard him, then I recognized how his mind was moving, as it would move just like mine would have in his shoes. I had never heard anyone talk like I do—rapid fire, pause to think of an analogy, rapid fire, change subject mid sentence, rapid fire, pause, etc. Talking to him cracked me up.

For example, one time he came in and started talking about something about the surgery, then interrupted himself MID SENTENCE and said “Did you know that Sarah Palin is resigning as governor?”. The change was SO abrupt, as if I said “I took my care into the shop and it needs a new…hey did you know that Eggo came out with a different flavor of waffle?”. I realize now what Ashton experiences when my brain moves faster than my mouth lolol!

Plus Dr. Ha had so many analogies to explain things. I am sort of a medical wannabe, so I could follow what he said, but he is used to talking to people who do not know anything about medicine, so he used examples and analogies liberally, likening taking out the tumor with various ways of getting an elephant out of a room, etc.

Now, while this tickled me, it greatly reassured Ashton. Dr. Ha was familiar to him because he talked like me. I am thankful to the Lord for this tiny detail that meant so incredibly much to both Ashton and me. I got to see myself from the outside, and Ashton got a Dr that he was already familiar with, though they had just met. Amazingly wonderful blessing from the Lord!

I remember one conversation, though, with Dr. Ha that was very sobering. I knew that this was a brain tumor, but that it was between the brain and the skull. I was taking a bit of…false encouragement. I asked Dr. Ha what the risks are: behavior change? Cognitive problems? What about…well… you know. And he said, looking at me plainly and boring into my eyes “Yes.”. I said “Really?”, because he seemed so capable, the tumor seemed not to be IN the brain. I just was thinking of this like a…a higher stakes mole removal. He said again “Yes, everything. All of that could happen. This is the riskiest surgery there is.”. I said “REALLY?” again, thinking that this is not like open heart surgery. He said “We are operating on the brain. That’s [that area in the brain they were operating on] where speech and personality are.”. He went on for another sentence or two.

It was an odd conversation. He was not jovial as I had come to expect. He did not seem to intend to be reassuring in the least. He was very very frank. He looked at me without blinking as if he was willing me to understand. I understood. I definitely understood.

My husband is such a blessing to me. His personality is what the Lord has used to mold MY personality. Ash and I are polar opposites…literally hot and cold. We share the same values in our spirit, but our minds and our personalities could NOT be more different. He is very much an introvert, I am EXHILARATED by people, and in fact have more energy AFTER a party than before.

He is organized, methodical. I am random and disorganized. He is detail oriented. I am “whole picture” oriented. He has to have everything put away. I have to have everything where I can see it. He is meticulous. I am messy. He is pessimistic, I am the ETERNAL optimist about most things, with an “Oh I can do that” attitude (whether I CAN do it or not). He is a planner. I do not even know what day it is most days, and I am not comfortable with structure. He is logistic. I am holistic. He is calm and easy going. No matter what emotion I am feeling, I am feeling it 120%. I am hot tempered, he is almost NEVER angry or upset.

That cool, capable, unflappable, easy going personality is what the Lord has used to back me down from so many crises and anxiety disorder. He is a rock that I constantly crash against, and he does not seem to resent that fact at all. In fact, it almost seems to me that he relishes being strong enough to be still against my emotional ocean. I flatter myself to think that maybe I bring a little color and excitement to his life with my ways and habits, but maybe not.

Anyway, I have learned so much from him. It frightened me to think that he might change, might be different. What if he became more volatile? What if he did not like me anymore? What if his emotional center was damaged and I had to be the calm one? What if his personality changed so much that he did not want to be married to me anymore?

To be honest, I feared that a LOT more than I feared him dying. I feared that he would wake up a different man than I married. I have a degree in psychology, I know a little bit about traumatic brain injuries. I know that sometimes people can emerge totally different than they were. I knew I could handle him being physically damaged—paralyzed or something. That was not a problem. I knew I could handle if he was mentally impaired—not as brilliant as he is. That was a little more difficult, but still something I was ready to handle. I could even handle the pain of him dying—it would have been excruciating, but I knew it could happen. However, I begged the Lord for him not to be changed in who he is. THAT was my greatest fear, that he could turn into someone who hated me or our kids, or who was abusive or cruel.

I will say now, since I have wandered down that awful path of “what if” with you, that the Lord was again more merciful than I deserve and Ash DID change, but only for the better. He did not change in terms of personality, but rather in terms of realizing that life is precious and fragile. Things do not bother him at work like they did. He has better perspective. He does seem to forget a detail here or there, but really no one else would notice but me, and frankly that could just be my imagination because it is so slight. The Lord brought him through intact.

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